Booya! 2015 Reading Challenge completed! 100 books read

woman with book

I  usually read 60-70 books a year. This year, I challenged myself to read 100—two books per week. On December 4, 2015, I finished reading my 100th book! (Note: As of Dec. 13, I’ve read 102 books).

See the complete list here.

I write full time (this year I wrote seven books), and although I do know authors who read more than I do, I’m often asked how I can read so much. Here’s how:

  1. Having an actual goal helped. You have to believe you can before you can.
  2. I read for entertainment. I don’t go to movies, and I often read instead of watching TV.
  3. Many of the books are novellas, 75-200 pages.
  4. Obviously, I’m a fast reader, and the better a book , the faster I read. The difference between a 4-star and a 5-star read is that while a 4-star is interesting, I can put it down. I have to finish a 5-star book. It pulls me away from everything else. I don’t finish 3-star books. This year, 36 books ended up in my DNF file. Some of them I read halfway through and realized I wasn’t enjoying what I was reading or I was bored. I stopped.
  5. I don’t have kids at home who require feeding, care, and maintenance.
  6. I often read with a purpose in mind. When I decided to write a cyborg romance, I started reading all the cyborg SFRs I could to learn more about the subgenre.
  7. Traveling helped a lot. I get a lot of reading done at the airport and on the airplane. My husband and I took three one-week trips and one three-week trip in 2015. Just when I started to fall behind in my reading, we’d go somewhere and I’d catch up.

Among the 100 books, I read 62  64 different authors. I read multiple books by 17 authors. Most of the latter were authors I know personally. I wanted to support my friends. The most-read author was Eve Langlais, with 7 books. She’s not a personal friend, but I got hooked on her More than Machines cyborg series and had to read every book . It’s what inspired me to write my own cyborg series!

Because of my interest in writing sci-fi romance, I read more SFR than any other genre this year. Here’s the breakdown (counts will add up to more than 100 because some books are classified in two genres, e.g. spanking romance and historical romance):

  • Sci-fi romance/Sci-fi – 37
  • Spanking romance – 15
  • Paranormal – 13
  • Nonfiction – 11  12
  • BDSM – 8
  • Contemporary romance – 6
  • Historical romance – 4
  • Urban Fantasy – 2
  • Other (genres in which I read one book) – 7  8

On December 14, 2015, I’ll announce my most favorite favorites with the 5th Annual Best Books of the Year Awards. Although selection is subjective, I do have criteria:

  • A book doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be well-written, in terms of strong, motivated characters and a solid plot and good wordsmithing. Some books have AWESOME story concepts, but fail in the execution. Some books have excellent writing with brilliant metaphors and scintillating verbs, but the story isn’t that compelling. I’d rather have a compelling story than perfect writing, but poor writing can ruin a story, so both need to be solid.
  • A book has to have legs, staying power in my memory. Some books are like cotton candy. Sweet at the time, but then they melt away. When I look at my reading list months later, if I can’t remember what a book was about, it’s not going to make the awards list.
  • The award winners weren’t necessarily published in 2015, but rather, that’s when I read them.

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10 Responses to Booya! 2015 Reading Challenge completed! 100 books read

  1. That is so impressive, Cara!
    Thanks for explaining how you finished your reading challenge. (the goal setting is something I am just getting into)

    And thanks for mentioning parenting and home stuff. Phew! I have to remind myself to cut myself some slack. I cannot do it all, and this is one of many seasons.

    You are a rock star for reading and writing all those books this year. Congratulations!!

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I am in awe of any parent who manages to write a book! Something has to give–and usually, reading is the one of the first things to go.

  2. Michelle Howard says:

    Congrats on hitting your goal. I’m glad my books weren’t DNF. 🙂 I do love your no5 about maintenance of kids. LoL. You have been a woman on a mission and I wish I was as organized

    • Cara Bristol says:

      I think I look organized from the outside. I try to be, but sometimes I don’t feel very organized.

      I really don’t like DNFing books–especially if I get halfway through. That’s time I could have spent reading something I enjoyed. Sometimes I have 50, 100 pages invested. I usually get the Kindle samples, and that’s been a big help, but often it’s not enough to judge by, especially if it’s a longer book.

  3. That is amazing! Although, I wonder how many I read if I pay attention. If I get hooked, a usually read within a few days (slow reader), and if that doesn’t happen, I’ll read a few chapters then set it aside. I so understand the cotton candy description. I started to do audio books too as of a few months ago and I love it. I can read when I can read, but when I’m doing family stuff, or am in transit, I can listen so there’s always a story in my head.

    I’m going to recommend some books – although not sure you’re looking for recommendations but here they are. These I did on audio and I do think the narration made a difference.

    The Story of Ove. Amazing, wonderful, brilliant. I loved it, one of my favorite books of all time.
    The Husband’s Secret (Normandie Alleman recommended it and I’ve learned to trust her recommendations). You probably read this. Another amazing read. This is the type of author I think ‘wow, wish I could write like that.’
    You (Caroline Kepness) Again, Normandie recommended it and OMG. Amazing and creepy and you find yourself rooting for the bad guy and laughing and then thinking ‘no, he did not just do that’. What a ride this book was. Narration was amazing.

    A series I couldn’t stop reading, where I marked my calendar for the next installment- The Debt Inheritance. Just cried my eyes out with the Final Debt. This series will haunt me for a very long time. These are books I know I can’t read again, not for a long time, because they’re just so fully loaded, I can’t handle it. And this (to me) is a good thing.

    • Cara Bristol says:

      The Husband’s Secret was one of my 2014 Best Book winners. Awesome read. Thanks for the other recommendations. I’ll check them out.

  4. Awesome! And you’ve still got a couple weeks to go.

    I always look forward to your book awards and other recommendations. I downloaded the audio version of The Husband’s Secret after last year’s awards. Haven’t listened to it yet, but it’s there.

    You’ve inspired me to read more in 2016.

  5. Congrats on exceeding your reading goal! And writing all those books while you did it, too. 🙂

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